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Member since: 2002
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how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.

For the past eight decades Saudi Arabia has been careful. Using its vast oil wealth, it’s quietly spread its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world, secretly undermined secular regimes in its region, and prudently kept to the shadows while others did the fighting and dying. It was Saudi money that fueled the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, underwrote Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, and bankrolled Islamic movements and terrorist groups from the Caucasus to the Hindu Kush. It wasn’t a modest foreign policy, but it was a discreet one.

Today that circumspect diplomacy is in ruins, and the House of Saud looks more vulnerable than it has since the country was founded in 1926. Unraveling the reasons for the current train wreck is a study in how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.

The kingdom’s first stumble was a strategic decision last fall to undermine competitors by scaling up its oil production and thus lowering the global price.

They figured that if the price of a barrel of oil dropped from over $100 to around $80, it would strangle competitors that relied on more expensive sources and new technologies, including the U.S. fracking industry, companies exploring the Arctic, and emergent producers like Brazil. That, in turn, would allow Riyadh to reclaim its shrinking share of the energy market. There was also the added benefit that lower oil prices would damage oil-reliant countries that the Saudis didn’t like — including Russia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Iran.


I'm going to the dispensary tomorrow

Anyone have a preferred strain? I'm thinking about an eighth of Durban Poison and an eighth of Girl Scout Cookies, which is a local favorite. I love my dispensary. QPC on Evergreen way in Everett if anyone's in the area. They're a little flaky, but in really nice way.

You're absolutely right about the need for outrage

What we're doing is by far a bigger crime against the unborn than abortion. Maybe if people had a religious conviction that killing the planet was Mortal sin. More than mortal; we could find ways to start talking about this. It's made us shy. We creep around it like mice around a cat. If suicide is a sin, what is species self-extermination. These are issues of elemental morality, but no one wants to talk about them. It's too bad, really.

we don't want to trouble our beautiful minds

with ambiguously defined worries about the future. We like problems we can solve by killing someone. It's our strong suite.

this Shell oil drilling rig and another just like it, is headed for that stretch of Alaska coastline

that's melting out in the images above. It looks like that entire zone between the 70th and 80th parallels will soon be ice free, if it isn't already. A 28 ship flotilla is up there now building the infrastructure to support these rigs.

Arctic Sea Ice Collapse Threatens


The image below compares the Arctic sea ice thickness on July 14, 2012 (left panel) and on July 14, 2015 (right panel), using Naval Research Laboratory images.

The dramatic decline of the sea ice, especially north of North America, is the result of a combination of factors, including:

•very high levels of greenhouse gases over the Arctic Ocean
•very high levels of ocean heat
•heatwaves over North America and Siberia extending high air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean
•wildfires triggered by these heatwaves resulting in darkening compounds settling on snow and ice

•very warm river water running into the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below.

Great news. Shell won't even have to drill; just capture the millions of tons of methane bubbling up from the bed of the Arctic ocean.
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